As 2021 draws to a close, GOOD Morning Wilton is taking a look at what most captured the interest of readers. Here’s a countdown of the most widely-read stories of the year:
10. Development and Re-development
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice first alerted residents last April to the “unprecedented” level of developers’ interest in Wilton.
- Several large, multi-family housing developments have been proposed, with the largest recently approved at 141 Danbury Rd., the site of the former Melissa and Doug offices. That approval represented quite a departure for Wilton’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z), with a zone change and special permit that allowed for density and building height not previously seen in Wilton.
- As Wilton grapples with how to offer more diverse and affordable housing, and kicks off the Master Planning of Wilton Center, Vanderslice is emphasizing how critical redevelopment of Wilton’s commercials spaces will be.
9. COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout
By February 2021, roughly one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, most residents were still eagerly waiting for access to the vaccine. Gov. Ned Lamont announced an age-based rollout that followed the initial prioritization of emergency responders, frontline medical workers, nursing home residents and senior citizens (65-plus). In what now seems like ancient history, residents aged of 55-64 were eligible for the vaccine on March 1, followed by those aged 45-54 on March 22; 35-44 year-olds on April 12; and ages 16-and-above on May 3. (Not everyone agreed with the age-based plan, including one Wilton resident who argued for a system based on COVID’s risk to those with pre-existing conditions.)
8. Major Announcement by the School Sisters of Notre Dame
In August — normally a quiet month for Wilton news — the School Sisters of Notre Dame announced plans to relocate the members of community and a desire to sell the Belden Hill Rd. property. The sprawling, 38-acre campus features several building structures totaling over 200,00 square feet, including a residence hall, chapel, school and houses. The property has not yet been sold.
7. Tragedy and Loss
Wilton unfortunately saw its share of tragedy and loss in 2021.
- In May, Wilton learned of the loss of Dr. Joseph Hufnagel, a medical advisor for the Town of Wilton and beloved pediatrician at Doctors’ Pediatric.
- In another May tragedy, an infant was found breathing but unresponsive while under the care of the Goddard School. Police charged Amy Tingets, a Goddard employee at the time of the child’s injury, with first-degree assault and risk of injury to a minor.
- In August, Wilton’s town officials acknowledged the ongoing opioid crisis — which locally included four overdoses and two deaths at that point in time — by proclaiming an Overdose Awareness Day. It was part of a state-wide effort to bring attention to the public health emergency and the fact that Connecticut residents are more likely to die from an unintentional drug overdose than a motor vehicle accident.
6. Wilton’s Food Scene
GMW readers are keenly interested in new dining options.
- The opening of Baldanza (in the former Schoolhouse at Cannondale at 34 Cannon Rd.) in August, followed by Point Break Tacos (in Wilton Center at 126 Old Ridgefield Rd.) in October, both received a warm welcome from residents.
- P&Z approved permits for Rise Doughnuts to operate at 28 Center St. (the location previously occupied by Lang’s Pharmacy in Wilton Center), as well as a new craft brewpub at 4 Danbury Road in South Wilton. Look for these coming soon!
5. Hollywood Comes to Wilton
News that a Stephen King movie would be filming in Wilton garnered a lot of attention from readers. The movie, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, is a Netflix production and will star Donald Sutherland (M*A*S*H, The Hunger Games, Ordinary People) and Jaeden Martell (It, Knives Out), according to the Hollywood Reporter. With Allens Meadow serving as a staging area, filming took place in November at the former Wilton Baptist Church on Danbury Rd.
4. ASML’s Hiring Frenzy
Wilton-based ASML, a worldwide leader in optical fabrication for the high-tech industry, has over 1,600 employees in Wilton… and counting. In October, GMW reported that ASML was trying to fill over 200 open positions, ranging from assembly, production engineering and logistics to optical technicians and other engineering roles. The company, which is projecting its 2025 annual revenue to be between approximately $27 billion and $34 billion, is also seeking to expand its Wilton plant by more than 20,000 square feet in its employee cafeteria and loading dock areas.
3. Election 2021
Readers couldn’t wait for morning publications to learn the results of Wilton’s municipal elections, and tuned in to GMW‘s live coverage on election night of the preliminary tallies from Wilton’s Registrars of Voters. It was a strong night for Republicans in all races except one: the hotly contested Board of Education race, where Democrats earned all three open seats.
2. Wilton’s Residential Real Estate Boom
Consistently high readership of GMW‘s weekly Real Estate Report shows just how strong interest is in Wilton’s real estate market. Last May, our reporting showed a strong trend of higher prices and low inventory that continued steadily throughout the year. In the week just ending on December 16, there were four houses that sold between roughly $1.3 million and $2 million. The big question is, how long will the trend continue? Look for our weekly report on Mondays.
And the Number 1 Story: Oil Delivery Truck Takes A Tumble
Some stories just go viral, and this was one that readers — including thousands of people outside of Wilton — couldn’t resist. Fortunately, the unsecured oil truck that overturned after careening down a Wilton driveway did not spill hazardous material, though it did take several hours to extricate the vehicle from the yard.